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A celebrated Roman poet, orator, and historian. He was born B.C. 75, and made his first public appearance by bringing an impeachment in B.C. 54; in the Civil Wars he fought on Caesar's side at Pharsalus and in Africa and Spain. After the murder of Caesar he at first inclined to the Republicans, but in B.C. 43 joined Antony, and on the break-up of the Triumvirate obtained Gallia Transpadana for his province. In the redistribution of lands there he saved the poet Vergil's paternal estate for him. After negotiating the Peace of Brundisium between Antony and Octavian, B.C. 41, he became consul in 40, conquered the Parthini in Dalmatia in 39, and celebrated a triumph. He then retired from political life, and devoted himself to the advancement of learning. He served the cause of literature not only by his own writings, but by setting up the first public library at Rome, and by introducing the custom of reading new works aloud to a circle of experts, before publication. (See RECITATIO.) He was himself a stern critic of others, as we see by his strictures on Cicero, Sallust and Livy, though it was remarked that he was not always so severe upon himself. He was especially celebrated as an orator; yet his speeches, in spite of careful preparation, were devoid of elegance, and, as Quintilian remarks, might be supposed to have been written a century earlier than Cicero's. He wrote tragedies also, in which the same stiffness and dryness are complained of. And he composed a history of the Civil Waxs in seventeen books, from the first Triumvirate to the battle of Philippi, which seems not to have been published in a complete form till after his death. Not one of his works has survived. [The history of Caesar's African campaign, Bellum Africum, has recently been attributed to him, but on insufficient grounds.] He died 80 years old, A.D. 4.
Type: Standard
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